IndyCar Paddock

Well, the good news that Sonoma Raceway in Northern California’s Wine Country survived the early morning 6.0/6.1 magnitude earthquake centered a few miles away. The track has surveyed the facilities and it’s all systems go, as planned.

Some spectators may have a bit of a detour getting to the track as some roads are closed, such as parts of #37 and #121, both major arteries to the track.

Nearby Napa, Vallejo and American Canyon suffered physical damage including broken water and gas mains resulting in fires and no way to put them out, lots of things falling and breaking, and a few injuries in facilities.

Many of the teams and drivers and other race participants were staying on the Vallejo/Napa side of the track and felt the quake much more. Team Penske gathered in its parking lot after everything including a well-stocked bar off-loaded to the ground. For some of the non-locals, this was their first earthquake, and quite unsettling to say the least.

The United States Geological Survey said this earthquake is first big one in the Bay Area since the really big 6.9 Loma Prieto Earthquake in Oakland in 1989. That explains why this is the first earthquake I’ve felt since that fateful day.

Sunday’s Sonoma Raceway’s schedule calls for Warm-Ups for Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires and Verizon IndyCar Series, followed by the second Indy Lights Grand Prix of Sonoma Race, the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma IndyCar Race, and the second SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge Race.

Saturday saw the season’s finale for two of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder series – Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires. Both series had exciting races to the finish for the championship.

RC Enerson leading Florian Latorre. Photo by Jeff Burghardt
RC Enerson leading Florian Latorre. Photo by Jeff Burghardt

RC Enerson No.7 Team E Racing won the USF2000 Race #1, while title contender Florian Latorre No.10 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing had contact while the two were dicing. Enerson continued and Latorre retired.

Latorre had a comback in Race #2 by winning, ahead of Enerson, and collected the title championship as well. The races were much more exciting than I have time to elaborate.

Jack Harvey of England won the Indy Lights race, his third in four races. He races for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and is now second by 12 points behind Championship leader, Gabby Chaves, who finished second in that race.

Spencer Pigot
Spencer Pigot

The most exciting series to follow was the Pro Mazda Series, which had two contenders going for the brass ring and that goes with including incentives to facilitate graduation to the Indy Lights Series, the next step of the Mazda Road to Indy. Spencer Pigot No.7 Juncos Racing was leading the points ahead of Rookie Scott Hargrove No.3 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.

In Mazda Race #1 Pigot and Hargrove were racing/dicing, with Hargrove leading and Pigot second, until they had body contact. Hargrove continued, Pigot, who led a lap, did not and retired.

Spencer Pigot's No.7
Spencer Pigot’s No.7

Pigot made an amazing comeback in Race #2. He started second, had yet another contact on the first lap, involving five other cars, leading him stranded. He got restarted at the back and charged his way to fifth place. Meanwhile Leader Hargrove had mechanical problems starting on Lap 15, and he fell back and retired. Pigot’s Juncos Racing teammate, Jose Gutierrez won the race, and Pigot won the championship.

The fog mostly lifted by the time the first race cars, Indy Lights, and the clouds parted to make room for the welcome sun.

It’s going to be another great day.

IndyCar Paddock